Town mouse ponders a new bridge

Consultation has opened for comment on a proposed new Garden Bridge across the Thames. Intended to link the South Bank- near the National Theatre-with Temple Station and the eastern end of Aldwych, it’s envisaged as a purely pedestrian crossing. The brainchild of thespian Joanna Lumley and sculptor Thomas Heatherwick (he of the fiery Olympics cauldron), it would be, in effect, a slender linear park planted with trees and wildlife-friendly flowers.

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London is defined by its river and I never tire of watching it, plied by barges and passenger clippers in the City, but from Kingston to Putney flecked with scullers and coxed eights. Low tide brings in foraging waders and wildfowl and, the other day, I watched gulls noisily establishing pecking order over a washed-up eel; despite its superior size, the hungry heron that had found it was soon seen off. But my favourite time is full tide, with its generously abundant waters and shimmering reflections.

The choice of trees for the Garden Bridge will be an interesting conundrum. What will grow? We don’t need more of those skinny Nordic birches beloved of landscapers and London planes have limited wildlife benefit. Ash is doomed and oak cliché. How about black poplar, Britain’s rarest native and the classic English riverside tree? It’s an unsung national treasure.

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